Humans of Lob is a project dedicated to getting to know our Lobsters on an individual level. We sat down with our Data Software Engineer, Sebas Sovero.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing and your family.
I was born in Southern California and I'm the first generation born in the U.S, both my parents are from South America. Culturally I'm a little bit of a mixed bag, my dad's from Peru and moved here for college and my mom spent a lot of her upbringing in Argentina. Spanish and English were my first languages. I’m the youngest in my family with two older sisters. I grew up playing soccer and running. I lived 30 minutes inland from the ocean, but I didn’t get into surfing until I could drive. Surfing ended up being a lifelong passion of mine, I wish I had been able to realize it sooner. While I loved surfing I wanted a change from Southern California after high school. I ended up choosing to go to Boston to do something radically different.
That was probably a big switch for you to go from Southern California to Boston.
Yeah, definitely a shock. Everything felt new—even simple things like riding public transit. It was nice to have that distance to kind of figure out how to stumble. I went to MIT for undergrad and it was a really great experience to have a ton of people around me that were super interested in tech and owning being like a little weird or eccentric or non-conformist.
How did you get into your career path?
Graduating from high school, I was really clueless and detached from what an actual career looked like. I just loved science and engineering but had very little understanding of what jobs in that field were like.
When I went to MIT it was very humbling. I studied Mechanical Engineering and Ocean Engineering because I love tinkering with things. I'm the type of person that will take apart a bicycle, do my own repairs, and troubleshoot mechanical things. Later on, I realized that I really like software engineering. I didn't formally major in it but that's where I realized I wanted to go down that track. I found it really exciting to fuse that tinkering inside of me with my love for problem-solving. I think software engineering really tickles that side of my personality.
Did you say Ocean Engineering?
Yeah, it's like mechanical engineering, but in an ocean environment. Again, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. But I love surfing. I love sailing. I graduated with like six other students. It was very small.
Do you think it has made you a better surfer?
It's really cool. Learning the theory, I feel like there's still more I could learn. For example, one thing that's easier to understand now is there's something called the Hull speed of a boat. So you know how a boat when it goes through water, there's a bow wave. As you go faster and faster, that bow wave gets bigger, and you get a trough in the back. In this weird way, you're kind of moving with a hill that you're always trying to climb, and it slows you down. The maximum speed depends on the length of the boat’s bow wave. Longer bow waves travel faster. Longer displacement boats are generally faster because of this. While surfboards don’t generate a bow wave, they ride ocean swells similar to the way a boat rides its bow wave. When you ride long winter waves (> 12ft faces), you need a larger surfboard (>9ft) to keep up with it. In summer, storms are smaller and the waves are shorter so you can get away with using 6ft boards.
What do you work on at Lob?
I basically work on maintaining and building data pipelines. Data Pipelines that are mainly used for internal teams at Lob. The Finance team, Partner Operations, and Sales team, so any team that needs insights into our core services. We are responsible for extracting that information so that a non-technical employee can see their key metrics. I really enjoy looking for insights and building data pipelines.
What's a project you're really proud of working on at Lob?
I'm really proud of working on the unit cost project. This was an initiative to calculate how our costs breakdown for different products. We used to hand verify our printing bills—but it wasn’t as reliable or as visible as the automated system we built. It was a fun challenge to bring together stakeholders across different teams. It was satisfying to find the common ground that would provide enough benefit for everyone. We're kind of an arbiter that has to try to corral different business interests. I really appreciated learning that side of the project. I liked having a green fields project and building features into it incrementally.
What was a moment in your life that changed your perspective?
I did grad school at UCSB and in robotics, so it was a really great place for me to figure out what I wanted professionally in terms of types of problems, challenges, but also seek out a rich life outside of work. I felt really fulfilled by living in Santa Barbara— the city lends itself to spending time outdoors and at the ocean. I was able to surf and commute to work all on a bicycle. I felt like it set a standard for what I want out of life— a rich life at work and outdoor community.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I am an avid freediver and spearfisherman. Spearfishing requires diving between 20-60 feet on a single breath-hold. Most people are scared to hold their breath for several minutes, but everyone is capable with a little training. It’s amazing to observe fish in their habitat without the bulk and noise of scuba gear. It’s fun to get to know the different personalities of underwater animals.
What is an important moment that happened at Lob that you want other people to hear?
What's your favorite hot food on a cold day or cold food on a hot day?
I really love virgin piña coladas on hot days. First, I drain a whole coconut into a blender. Then I use a large blade to open the coconut and extract the meat into the blender. The only other ingredient that I use is frozen pineapple. It is really satisfying using the whole coconut to create such a sweet replenishing drink.
On cold days, I love Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup. It is roughly analogous to Japanese ramen, but with a chewier noodle. The Taiwanese noodles get their thickness and chewiness from being hand-rolled. A tough cut of meat is tenderized in a marinade over time so it ends up with an iridescent sheen and great texture. It’s all combined in a beef broth with veggies to balance the dish out. My favorite soup shop is located on a Taiwanese river mouth that has a great surf break next to it. There is nothing like a hearty warm soup after a long surf.'
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